January 10, 2007 Edition

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Razorback band complements
Week's UA college education

John Bland

Being a trumpet player in the University of Arkansas Razorback band has provided Walnut Ridge native Chance Weeks with some fun and exciting opportunities.

One of those opportunities was an eight-day trip to Orlando, Fla., where the Razorback Marching Band performed on New Year's Day at the Capital One Bowl. Weeks and other band members were also able to enjoy several Orlando attractions and bowl festivities.

"It was fun," Weeks said of the trip, despite the disappointing 17-14 loss to Wisconsin.

Their trip expenses were paid for through the University of Arkansas. In addition, a band booster paid the $39 per person admission for the band to spend their first day at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The generous donor paid this admission for 350 people, including band members and supporting personnel.

On their second day in Orlando, the band played and marched in the 1.4-mile Florida Citrus Parade held downtown. After the parade, they had the option of relaxing at their hotel or visiting Disney's EPCOT.

On New Year's Eve afternoon, a pep rally was held in Universal Studios, where both the Arkansas and Wisconsin bands were present. They remained through the evening at Universal Studios, site of the official Capital One New Year's Eve Party.

After the bowl game, the band held a banquet at their hotel, the Rosen Centre Hotel. They returned to Arkansas on Jan. 3.

Weeks is a sophomore mechanical engineering major and also plans to minor in physics. He has found that for every hour in class, he needs about two hours of study and has some sort of homework assignment every school night.

"Band is my fun time. It's my escape," Weeks said. "It gives me a group of people to hang out with."

Weeks lives in the Northwest Quad on the U. of A. at Fayetteville campus with three roommates, all friends from band. Their suite consists of two bedrooms, two baths, a living room and a small kitchenette. Incidentally, the Northwest Quad is also the home for athletics, and Razorback quarterback Casey Dick lives across the hall from Weeks.

"There is a world of difference between high school and the college band," Weeks said. He went from the section leader of a seven-player trumpet section in high school to third-part trumpet player in a section of 45 trumpet players.

The U. of A. band has two directors and seven graduate assistants. Many of the band members are music majors, he added.

During the recent football season, the Razorback Marching Band performed at all Fayetteville and Little Rock games. Thirty members plus a director attend away games, and Weeks flew with the band to the Vanderbilt and Auburn games. The entire band went to Atlanta for the Southeast Conference championship game and to Orlando for the bowl game.

Being a part of the Razorback band is also a time commitment. The marching band practices eight hours a week: two hours each on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Half the band performs at the Friday night pep rallies on campus.

"Game day is an all-day thing," Weeks said. Game days include rehearsal time, the game and half-time performance and an after-game performance in the stands.

For basketball season, band members sign up in advance to play in the Hog Wild Band for home games. Last year Weeks played for all home conference games and five non-conference games. By participating in these games, he was able to attend the SEC Tournament in Nashville and the NCAA tournament in Dallas.

This year, Weeks has signed up to play at 12 home basketball games in Bud Walton Arena. The Hog Wild Band requires no extra rehearsals other than meeting prior to the basketball games.

Concert season is also an option during the spring semester, and the band members are divided into four groups: concert band, wind symphony, symphonic band and campus band.

While participation during concert season is required for those on band scholarship, it is optional for others. Weeks played in the concert band his freshman year but is planning to take a break from it this year. This would allow him time to participate in intramural basketball, a sport he has missed since playing at WRHS, where he graduated in 2005.

Weeks is the son of Fred and Susan Weeks of Walnut Ridge and is attending the U. of A. on dual scholarships. He received the Arkansas Governor's Distinguished Scholarship, which pays $10,000 a year, and a U. of A. Chancellor's Scholarship, valued at $8,000 a year.

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